When J and I first heard about the cochlear implant we thought it was a decision that would best be left for SJ to decide when she was an adult. However, since then we have learned a lot more about the device and the procedure. It turns out that by leaving the decision to her we are making the decision for her because her brain would never be able to acquire or “decode” language later in life anywhere near as well as she can right now during this brief window of opportunity. We’ve done a lot of research and been in touch with many different people; people from the deaf communities, parents of children with CIs, adults with CIs, Doctors, and teachers of the deaf. We’ve watched DVD’s, read books and articles and most importantly we’ve prayed over this decision.
We started with her hearing aids, but her hearing loss is just too profound to really benefit from them. After this trial period we had a 2nd ABR, an MRI, and a CAT scan which confirmed that she would be the perfect candid for the surgery. After that we went to see a Doctor from one of the top Cochlear implant centers in the world. SJ’s medical records were reviewed by a panel of experts at that hospital. Everyone that has worked with SJ has suggested the cochlear implant and they all seem to have very high expectations of how she would benefit from a CI. By this time we finally felt confident in the path that we were supposed to take, the surgeon we were going to use, and which of the 3 CI manufacturers we she would be using.
The surgery will take about 3 1/2 hours. They will be performing the surgery on her right side. This means she will loose nearly all that is left of her natural hearing from her right ear, but the sounds she will gain through the implant will be a dramatic improvement so it’s a good trade. The type of device she will receive is called Cochlear Americas Nucleus 5.
To give a brief overview of what the implant is like, it starts with the internal device which will do the work of the damaged cochlea to provide sound signals to the brain. Then there is the external device called the processor. Picture a big hearing aid (or bluetooth) which hangs over the ear, but it doesn’t go into her ear it is connected to a transmitter that will magnetically stick to her head. I know it sounds very sci-fi, but this “bionic ear” technology is being called the biggest medical advancement of the 21st century and it will allow my daughter to hear!
So as you can see it’s been a major process and a lot of life changing decisions, but we feel confident in the choice we’ve made and have a peace going into this surgery. SJ will be operated on this Monday and will come home the next day. She should bounce back within days after surgery and will have the device activated in about 3 weeks after it has had time to heal. We will keep everyone updated.